Planning for the new home care market

For new providers about to enter the home care sector from 2017, there are many elements of a business model that now need to be considered, writes Jonathan Pietsch.

Erica has Parkinson’s disease and was assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) in October last year for a Level 4 Home Care Package.

Erica and her husband, James, chose a home care provider that only had a Level 2 package but had a very good local reputation, and soon a Level 3 package became available. As part pensioners, they contributed $140 a week to their care (basic daily fee and income-tested care fee) and after two months were really wondering about the value of the package for themselves.

The first care worker was unable to work in the school holidays and then their replacement moved out of the area. Having a consistent direct care worker was a very high priority for Erica and James, so they approached a worker that they already knew who had helped them while Erica was receiving services under the Home and Community Care program.

The support worker was happy to provide the care, so they approached their approved home care provider to arrange a subcontracting arrangement. The organisation was pleased to accommodate and now Erica and James couldn’t be happier. They have also been pleased with the flexible arrangements, cab charges, the payment of some bills to do with Erica’s care, and the monthly statement still showed a surplus.

They are now working on a new goal to purchase a specially-modified wheelchair, and it is exciting for them both as assisting with Erica’s mobility will provide even more freedom.

Erica and James’ experience could have been quite different if the provider was not delivering Consumer Directed Care (CDC) to a good standard. If the same situation existed post February 2017, when Home Care Package funding follows the consumer rather than the provider, Erica and James might have simply taken their money elsewhere, rather than putting in extra money and effort to broker their preferred worker.

The provision of Home Care Packages over the past two years has involved a significant cultural change for many organisations. From February 2017, the Commonwealth is reducing red tape for new providers to enter the market. Residential aged care and Commonwealth Home Support Programme providers will be able to become approved Home Care Package providers much more readily. Many are planning right now how to enter this new marketplace.

The complexity of Home Care Packages has increased with consumer choice and flexibility being central to maintaining a person’s independence in the community. For new providers, there are many elements of a business model that now need to be considered. These include the role of the care coordinator, now more commonly known as the care advisor.

Questions include:

  • How do we cost and price services?

  • Do we have our own brokerage system or is it best to contract this out?

  • What will our model be and what staff qualities and skills will we need for these new roles?

  • What are the legal issues that are presenting and how best can we meet consumer need?

  • What will the sources of referral be, how will we market ourselves?

  • How do My Aged Care and the Regional Assessment Services work?

Jonathan Pietsch is service provider consultant at Home Care Today.



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